LED Light colors can be changed in a variety of ways, depending on the types of LED you plan to use.
We look at how LED creates colored light with the key ways on how to change the color of an LED light, from pro solutions & smart lighting to fun DIY solutions.
Table of Contents
Different colored diodes are created using various semiconductor materials. The material used to make a red diode is aluminum gallium arsenide, while a green diode is made from gallium phosphide, and an indium gallium nitride semiconductor is used for a blue diode.
16 million colors can be mixed from these 3 primary light colors of red, green and blue (RGB); the 3 colors that span the visible electro-magnetic spectrum.
Color-changing lights combine these RGB LED semiconductors in a bulb or light fixture, allowing the red green and blue light to mix before the light leaves the product, delivering colored light.
There are various ways light color can be customized.
By changing the luminous intensity of individual diodes and combining the light each creates, a variety of colours and hues can be produced.
An example of how this works is if you send all of the power to the red diode only, the LED light will glow in red. This rule is applicable to the blue and green diodes as well.
When the diodes are illuminated in differing outputs the color mixing begins.
As seen in the diagram above, if the red and green diodes have equal outputs, the mix creates yellow light. Equal red and blue creates pink light, equal green and blue light creates turquoise light.
If the red diode gets 100% current and the green diode gets 50%, the light produced will be a shade similar to orange light.
When all three diodes receive full power, something interesting happens and they will create white light!
Smart technologies adjust the brightness and tone to create distinct shades and allow for customisation of the colours, often controlled through an app on a mobile device.
RGB Color changing smart bulbs are available in a variety of designs, from standard A19 or BR30 bulb shapes to decorative G25 and G16.5 bulbs. Color is changed by controlling the brightness and hue of each red, green and blue color channel, enclosed within the bulb itself and sometimes through an included remote control when buying a plug and play solution.
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Color temperatures deal with the choices of white light only, which is still a color of course but does not include all the possibilities of colored light. Color temperature is measured in Kelvin (K).
While it’s still possible to create a variety of different white color temperatures with LED lighting, changing colors outside of the white spectrum requires specialized LED products or systems.
Although the light is classed as white, the hue of light ranges from a 1000K amber color of white up to 10000K daylight white which has a blue hue within the white making it very crisp.
You can control and change the color temperature (CCT) of LED by replacing a light bulb with a different choice of CCT or you can ‘tune’ the white light from within the same LED product.
Color tunable light fixtures change the color temperature of the white light from within a lighting product via a controller. This mixes a 6500K cold white LED with a 2700K warm white LED, allowing you to choose any color of white from within that range.
This is useful for scene settting a room from daytime using a crisp whiter light, to a cosy warm white at night.
DMX is an industry standard for controlling colored lighting in professional solutions such as theatrical stage shows, concerts, buildings and other large-scale events, allowing a user to control the color and intensity of LED lights at scale.
Those on a tight budget can still enjoy the benefits of changing and customizing their lighting with some fun DIY ideas to filter and reflect white light through modified light bulbs. The bulb must be a low heat LED light source and test your work before leaving a light source unattended.
Cellophane: Use colored cellophane filters from craft stores and place them over your existing light bulbs. This will add beautiful color to any space for a fraction of the cost.
Marker Pens: Carefully abraise the glass of the bulb with sandpaper to create a key for a marker pen’s ink to stick to and cover the glass with your choice of color.
Nail Polish: A thin layer of nail polish over the glass of the bulb can be applied straight on with a top coat of gel or shellac to protect the color from fading. It must be a thin layer and test to ensure the polish does not become hot.
Thin Tissue Paper: Create decorative lampshades or lanterns using colored tissue paper and translucent materials.
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